WordPress Admin Help

Here’s a draft of the proposed project scope:

As part of the move towards developing features in plugins, we’re looking at making improvements to the WordPress admin help. On Monday at 3:30 UTC we discussed the issue in #wordpress-dev

The Problem: The current Admin Help is hard to find unless you know it’s there. The content lacks any focus; it’s simply a description of what’s on a particular screen and doesn’t add any particular value. It’s possible that we’re failing WordPress users by a) not providing useful help in the Admin, and b) not providing adequate basic resources in the Codex.

Work was carried out by @chexee in ticket 21583 on making Help and Screen options more discoverable.

In the State of the Word, Matt talked about the 96% attrition rate on wp.com, and how it was probably higher on WordPress due to the extra steps. If users are getting frustrated and walking away from WP, how can we prevent that frustration?

Goal: to alleviate frustration in people who find the admin too difficult to use.

(Note: changing the Admin is outside of the scope of this project. We are creating help for the admin as it is. However, testing and research will inevitably show up issues which we should record and make available for others to work on should they wish to).

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • how can we best provide admin help to users?
  • what help do users need?
  • how can we ensure that help is unobtrusive for people who don’t need it?
  • what tools are available to us?
  • should we de-couple screen options and help?
  • how can we ensure that the help is accessible to all WordPress users?

The process:

1. Research & Identifying the Problem
Before fixing the problem, we need to discover what problem users are facing. @trishasalas has started writing some questions for user testing so we can identify at what stage the pain points are appearing. For example, are they baffled when they first log in to WordPress, or are they having problems when they are in the middle of work?

@jazz3quence has started researching how other platforms are implementing admin help, and the tools available. Once we have identified the problem we can match a tool to it.

We should also draw up a list of WordPress plugins that are providing admin help (WP-Help, for example).

2. Mockups
Mockups and sketches will be created for the following:

  • the user interface
  • the user’s journey and interaction with the functionality

3. Design & Development
A UI designer will put together the interface (to match MP6) and developers will be needed to create the plugin. After the first version we go on to the next phase.

4. Test and iterate
Testing and iterating for fun and profit.

5. Finish!
Time for tea, beer, or scotch.

Who’s needed:

It would be desirable to get the following skills involved:

  • developers
  • UI designers
  • technical writers
  • WordPress users (for testing)
  • people who run WordPress training (to provide feedback)